Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War

in men killed was September 2nd with 52 KIA and 256 WIA.) The total casualties for the
battle were 2,416. This breaks down as 5 MIA, 2,080 WIA, and 331 KIA. That is higher
than ten percent of the division's total strength (24,000), including elements not even
engaged! If one counts only the infantry regiments (each about 4,000 men strong), the
units taking the greater part of the fighting and the casualties, the percentage of losses
climbs staggeringly to near twenty percent (KMCs included; 594 casualties were taken
in the KMC Regiment in September 1951.)7
The casualties of the 2nd Infantry Division (ID) at Heartbreak Ridge, a battle
longer than one month, were 3,700-597 KIA, 3,064 WIA, and 84 MIA. The 1st Marine
Division's actual days of fighting numbered only fourteen, but it suffered a rate that was
also shockingly high. This attests to the tenacity of the NKPA (North Korean People's
Army) enemy in the Punchbowl sector and the fierceness of the fighting. (There were no
Chinese Communist Forces - CCF - in the Marine sector of front at this time.) 8
To give some perspective, on the first day of the battle of Peleliu in the Central
Pacific, on September 15, 1944 (seven years earlier almost to the day), the 1st Mar Div
suffered 210 KIA and 901 WIA. (The total Marine casualties for Peleliu were: 6,500
Marines with 1,200 dead.) That was one of the most fiercely contested assault landings
of World War II, and that was with all three regiments engaged. (Marine losses at
Tarawa were also much higher than the Punchbowl battle, 1,000 dead and 2,400
wounded in three days, but of Korean War battles, the fight for the Punchbowl was
among the most costly.) The 5th Mar Div on D-day at Iwo Jima lost 189 KIA and 697
7 1st Mar Div "Historical Diary," September 1951, narrative for actions on September 14; Ibid., 31. The
fourth regiment was the attached KMC regiment.
8 Arned Hinshaw, Heartbreak Ridge, 127.

Montandon, Joshua W. Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. Accessed June 2, 2015.